Creatives Unplugged | David Arshadi | Editor

After a bit of a break, we’re back with a new series: Creatives Unplugged. It’s our aim to give you an inside look at the industry, each piece will be based around a freelance industry professional who will give you a little bit of advice and some helpful insights into doing what they do. This week we’ve been chatting with David Arshadi, one of the most experienced and talented editors that we have the pleasure of working with.


What’s in your edit ‘kit’?

In terms of software I like to stay ambidextrous, so I use both Avid and Premiere. Both have their strengths and weaknesses, but it allows me to enjoy a varied career (Avid is traditionally used for features and documentaries, Premiere is more geared towards short form). I’m more of a Mac person but the ludicrous cost is driving me more towards buying a PC for my next edit machine.


You’re sitting down in your suite for the day… what next?

I’m sure this is a cliched answer but the first thing is to get a cup of coffee. Beyond that it’s different depending on the job but one way or another it involves reading the script, having a conversation with the Director/Producer about the film and then start watching the rushes.


You’ve recently edited a feature film, what was your editorial process like?

The workflow on a feature is very different to a documentary or short form. Mainly because you are dealing with something that is scripted and performed.

On set, the Script Supervisor will have a very detailed breakdown of all the slates & takes, which will include notes of which takes the Director prefers. Nevertheless, I will always watch every frame of every take because 99% of the time you will catch some gold that people on the frantic, pressured film set have not seen.

Often, it’s tiny, macro performances that can help bend the emotion/motivation of a scene a certain way.


A good example was on Steel Country. In the script, there was a scene where the main character approaches the mother of an abducted child and they have a conversation about it. In the edit, we wanted to move the scene to after the child is found dead.

Based on the scripted dialogue this seemed practically impossible but with some cuts to the dialogue, a couple of lines of ADR and some helpful macro performances from the actress playing the mother, we were able to convincingly recut the scene with her being numb from grief instead of worried, which massively changed the tone of the early part of the film.


Any tips for burgeoning editors?

It’s not what anyone wants to hear but the first couple of years are really tough. Once you’ve nailed the software, that’s only the start of your journey but once you get into the swing of things and find your style and temperament you’ll be fine.

Another tip is don’t allow yourself to be pigeon-holed, this industry is terrible for that. It’s why I like to cross genres and stay fluid.

Quick-fire last question – top three keyboard shortcuts?

Control Z – probably gets the most use

Trim Mode – a must if you want to be fast

Overwrite Edit – because each time it feels like progress

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